Now, we all know that Kerala has been rightfully termed as the ‘God’s Own Country’. But after experiencing Sikkim I found out that, dude if Kerala is His own country then this has to be ‘His Own Planet!’ (I know the geography doesn’t make sense, but I can’t help it! 😛 ) Now I have been to many places but never have I came across something so beautiful, so enchanting, so mesmerizing and so alluring, that I was simply dumbstruck by the serenity of this place. Name it and you will find it here. Magical landscape – check, tranquil environment – check, lovely hill stations – check, divine monasteries in the middle of the forests – check, complete solace and peace of mind – check, Check, CHECK! Sikkim is one of those parts of India which has yet not been fully exploited or touched by any external force. It offers the same completely natural and peaceful environment along with a tinge of modernism to it. There are those uncanny forests living peacefully with that modern city of Gangtok, there are those Himalayan bears living side by side with the many tourists that flock here every now and then, and there are those soldiers living hand in hand with those devotional Buddhist monks residing in Sikkim. It’s a burst of cultures, people and nature that you will find here! (And don’t forget Football!)
I explored Sikkim with my Maa and Papa during the peak winter season this year. And the journey was truly beyond words. (Still I’ll try my best to express it in ‘words’) 🙂 Every journey begins with an airport (or maybe a train station or a bus stop or maybe a dock! Whatever!). 😛 The only airport that you will find anywhere near Sikkim (or for that matter, any North Eastern state of India) is in a place a bit west of it known as Bagdogra, in West Begal. From there you can easily get cabs or taxis to Gangtok (Sikkim’s capital city) or your hotel. For the first day, we spent our night in the valley region of Doar. Even though the weather was misty throughout, we could still see the endless acres of tea plantations following us along the road! Then again, the weather there was to die for!
Then we finally began our journey to a lesser known town of Baiguney in Sikkim. The place was truly worth all the pain of the bumpy ride (as I told you that this place is untouched beauty, and some roads are still under construction). The resort we were staying in had some secret passage which led to a river running nearby. The water was cold and the zephyr calm. A perfect place to de-stress and relax! (Which we did, of course 🙂 )
And then started the clichéd hovering of the tourist spots (though I will warn you that there are MANY gorgeous spots in Sikkim, and you simply can’t visit them all!) which ended in the setting of our second day in here.
At a few hours journey from Baiguney is a hill station, Pelling, famous for its traditional food and the fascinating view of Mt. Kanchenjunga. Almost every hotel offers a plethora of local food along with a breathtaking view of the mountain.
But here’s when the real adventure begins. Ever thought of taking your car to 14,000 feet just to experience the wind over there? Yeah! The Nathula Border is situated almost fourteen thousand feet above the sea level and divides India from China. It took us around five hours to reach the place from Gangtok (we started from Baiguney but Gangtok somehow crept in the middle!). And boy, it was freezing chilly out there! Inside the car everything feels normal, but as soon as you open the door, the wind sweeps it close! Forget the cold, the wind was even harsher and chiller than any other thing in the world! After a great struggle, a lot of courage and the ever adding layers of warm clothes, we managed to get inside a café (The only one actually). We drank cups of tea, coffee and courage and plates full of momos, chili sauce and guts! As more and more of it got in, our urge to get out got more and more unbearable. And then like a warrior in a battlefield, like a sailor on rough seas and like James Bond on his mission, we stepped out into the chaos. (Chaos because there were many people moving here and there, trying to burn the heat) Walking, struggling, falling, tumbling, walking, again struggling, we made it to the border. The reward was to shake hands with a Chinese soldier and a photograph with the Indian Army at 14000 feet! Not bad actually! 🙂 My hat is off to all the Indian and Chinese soldiers who have to live in such a hostile climate and who, without a selfish motive, live and breathe to defend and fight for their country! Finally we made back for Gangtok.
And now that we were back again, bodies scrubbed with warm water, bellies filled with something Sikkimese, hopes high and engines roaring, we proceeded to explore the jolly city of Gangtok.
Gangtok has a lot to offer to everyone. Right from monasteries to theatres, from flower parks to the glamorous Mall Road and from street graffiti to extremely clean roads! But the best attraction was the Mall Road. It homes not only one of the best cafes in India but also the air of development and modernization. Taking a stroll down the road, in the evening, completely refreshed our wearied bodies. Moreover the street food there was DELICIOUS! Sluuurp! 😛
A far greater adventure that Gangtok offers is Paragliding. Here, there are three levels from which you can paraglide. The higher you get the more adrenaline is unleashed into your body. We tried out the medium level. And the experience was completely mind boggling! It was incredible and so much fun! The starting is the scariest when the instructors tell you to just keep running and even at the cliff, don’t stop! Woof! But as soon as you feel the wind in your face, you forget everything. It’s mesmerizing! After fifteen minutes of gliding, swaying and flying, the parachute rested for the first time as my legs felt the ground.
And with that our Sikkim trip also came to an adrenaline pumped end! The next day we left this beautiful country of peace loving monks, valor filled soldiers and football worshiping locals. This trip will stay with me forever…